A campaign to "close the door" on cosmetic testing on animals has been launched by Ricky Gervais.

The comedian, an outspoken critic of animal cruelty and bloodsports, has given his backing to the new NGO Cruelty Free International.

The organisation, launched by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, aims to put the issue of animal testing for cosmetics on the agenda of governments across the world.

Gervais said: "Using animals to test cosmetics is still allowed in most of the world, which means thousands of animals could continue to die for the sake of a new shampoo, which is ridiculous," he added.

"We urgently need a worldwide ban on this cruel and unecessary suffering."

Michell Thew, chief executive of Cruelty Free, said: "We are delighted to recieve the backing of Ricky Gervais. The time has come for a concerted effort to finally end animal testing for cosmetics worldwide. Cruelty Free International will lead this global effort."

There is no worldwide ban on animal testing for cosmetics. It is illegal in the European Union, but still legal in many countries.